Professor YuRandel Powers
Psy 100/SUMMER 2011
September 9, 2011
This paper will identify the differences between psychological and physical dependence. More over it will provide a brief summary of the classifications of psychoactive drugs. Further, we will briefly explore the role that alcohol plays in our culture and how when classified as a psychoactive drug alcohol is more acceptable than other psychoactive drugs, despite its propensity to psychological dependence.
According to Santrock (575), psychological dependence occurs when a person is preoccupied with obtaining a drug for an emotional reason such as reduction of stress. Conversely, he asserts that physical dependence exists when discontinuation of a specific drug creates unpleasant, significant changes in physical functioning and behavior. To further complicate the cycle of physical dependence withdrawal symptoms may include insomnia, tremors, nausea, vomiting, cramps, elevated heart rate, elevated blood pressure, convulsions anxiety and depression (515). Although there are many psychoactive drugs they have been classified into 3 categories depressants, stimulants, and Hallucinogens (514).
Hallucinogens defined as a psychoactive drug is also known as LSD, marijuana and ecstasy. These drugs modify an individual’s perceptual experiences and produce hallucinations. Further, the classification of a Stimulant, including but not limited to caffeine, nicotine, amphetamines and cocaine cause an increase of the activity of the central nervous system. Lastly, depressants classified as a psychoactive drug include alcohol, barbiturates and tranquilizers. The effects of these types of drugs include the slowing down of the central nervous system, bodily function and behaviors. Even with the know effects of each of these drugs numerous individuals either casually or habitually use or misuse one or more of these drugs.
To further explain the severity of and extent to which psychoactive drugs in general and alcohol more specifically are used Santrock (516) uses a few of Burch’s (2001) statistics on the use and misuse of alcohol. According to Brink (2001), 1.4 million people in the US are alcoholics. Additionally, alcoholism is the 3rd leading killer in the US. Similarly, dunk drivers injure approximately 20,000 people and 1.5 million. More than 60% of homicides involve the use alcohol either by the offender or the victim. 6.5% of aggressive attacks on women involve the use alcohol by the offender. Further complicating the dichotomy of acceptance, Santrock (516) informs us that Koenig (2001) provides cultural variations of the use of